​Arts & Culture

Keep dancing: Cake & balloons as Parkinson's Dance marks its 10th birthday in Bournemouth

Co-Founders Aimee Hobbs and Dr Sophia Hulbert celebrate the first decade of Parkinson's Dance.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: October 26, 2022 | Updated: 27th October 2022

A decade of Parkinson’s Dance has been celebrated with cake and balloons at Bournemouth’s Pavilion Dance South West.

It’s also been named as a finalist in this year’s One Dance UK Awards.

Created by Co-founders Dr Sophia Hulbert and Aimee Hobbs, the Parkinson’s Dance class has been experienced and enjoyed by thousands of participants over the last ten years.

It has also spread to the wider South West community.

More than 30 local health and dance practitioners have been trained to lead in the model.

There has also been a three-year research feasibility study to explore the impact of dance on people living with Parkinson’s while the class has been established in other parts of the region.

Sophia, a clinical academic and specialist physiotherapist in Parkinson’s, and Aimee, a freelance community dance artist, said: “Classes offering the Parkinson’s Dance Science model of practice aim to provide a fun, stimulating and supportive environment through which people with Parkinson’s can explore and develop movement and expression.

“Through our diverse and varied experience in the creative, academic and physiotherapy sectors, Parkinson’s Dance Science aims to not only emphasise the joy of movement in the moment, but also aspires to rehabilitate and develop better functional outcomes for the dancers in their everyday lives.”

With the help of Lisa Lort, Pavilion Dance South West’s Wellbeing Producer, over 350 classes have been delivered in Bournemouth alone.

They continued through the pandemic to provide classes online, enabling the Parkinson’s Dance class community to keep moving and connected.

Paying tribute to the Co-Founders, Rod Cossou, pictured, a Parkinson’s Dancer, said: “Every week you dedicate such selfless energies to each and every one in the class.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate to have you both presenting imaginative and uplifting themes in enjoyable yet challenging formats.

“All useful techniques in managing our mutual disease.

“A big thank you to you, Sophia, and to you, Aimee, for giving so much to us over the years.”

Between 2016 and 2019, and with support from Pavilion Dance South West, Parkinson’s Dance classes were also rolled out and embedded in three new areas with arts organisations serving their local communities.

Classes now exist in Bournemouth (led by Pavilion Dance South West), Sherborne, Dorchester (led by Dorchester Arts) and New Milton (led by Forest Arts Centre).

Fundraising efforts by Pavilion Dance South West to ensure Parkinson’s Dance continues for at least another decade include Artistic Director Victor Fung running a 5k as part of the recent Run Bournemouth and the annual Business Come Dancing contest.

The Parkinson’s Dance class has been shortlisted in the Health and Wellbeing category of the One Dance UK Awards finals.

They take place in Bristol this Saturday, October 29.

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